Learn the Arabic letter Alif

You will also see this letter transliterated as Alef.


Alif is the first letter in the Arabic alphabet. It’s also the most commonly used letter among them due to the several sounds it represents. And this leads to many different forms and shapes to recognize each sound.

Alif is a moon letter and is typically pronounced as letter “A” but it has various forms and uses that will be clarified in detail.

That makes Alif the trickiest letter. Its detailed description would be a bit long and might be intimidating for the first letter to learn. So, we are going to take a brief summary here just to get familiar with it. And we’ll take the rest of details later. Read it here.

Let’s get started…

The form shown above is the famous form of the Isolated Alif.

How Alif is written in a word differs according to how it’s pronounced, and of course, it’s position in the word

How the Arabic letter Alif is written


Basic Sample words of Alif in different states

Alif is only connectable to the letter before (the letter to the right). The basic shape of Alif takes these three forms depending on its position in the word:


Alif is one of the three letters  Alif ( ا ), Waaw ( و ), Yaa’ ( ي )  that might be either a consonant or a vowel letter.

In case of using the Alif as a vowel, the Hamza (ء) on the Alif is removed and only the (ا) remains. Also – as in other languages – as a vowel, it doesn’t come at the beginning of the word, it only comes in the medial or final positions.


Word examples using the Arabic letter Alif with diacritics

Consonant Alif  always comes at the beginning of a word. And it always come with a mark called Hamza ( ء ).


Consonant Alif represents all four kinds of sounds:

Alif with a fatha: ( أَ ). We put the fatha on the top of the Hamza ( ءَ )

Might have a soft sound like A in And

OR a gruff sound like U in Under


Alif with a kasra: ( إِ ). We put the kasra under the Hamza ( ءِ ). Note that in this case, the hamza comes below the Alif (ا)

It sounds like:

– E in Exam

– I in India


Alif with a damma: ( أُ ). We put the damma on the top of the Hamza ( ءُ )

It sounds like:

– O in Open or Orange.


Vowel Alif usually comes at the middle or at the end of a word:

Medial vowel Alif usually takes this form ( ـا ) (Alif never connects to the left side).

It can sound soft like a in Man.

Or it can sound gruff like a in Mars


Final vowel Alif usually takes this form ( ـا ).

It can sound soft like a in Cinema.

Or it can sound gruff like a in Grandpa.



-Alif ( ا ) might look like the connected form of the letter Laam ( لـ ) ( ـاـ ). But luckily, Laam always has an extension to the left side, but Alif never does. Alif is only connectable to the right side.


-Consonant Alif also has the Hamza in common with the final form of a letter called Kaaf ( ـك ).

-Alif also may be considered as a part of drawing the twin letters Toh ( ط ) and Thoh ( ظ ).


Alif is a stick. It’s the letter number one and looks exactly like number one 1.


Suggested for you

Arabic Alphabet Chart pdf download

Learn about diacritics/Tashkeel

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